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New moms aren’t getting enough sleep—but that can (and should!) change

I sat on the couch nursing my 3-month-old in the dark, quiet hours of the early morning for what felt like the thousandth night in a row. Tears fell down my face and my body ached with exhaustion. I wanted to sleep — needed to sleep — and yet I felt guilty for not enjoying this moment with my baby.


I had expected to be tired as a new mom — to accidentally put my phone in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard, to give up sleeping in on the weekends and lazy Saturday mornings. But I was not prepared for the way fragmented sleep would wreak havoc on both my physical and mental health, resulting in an inability to focus, increased anxiety, difficulty eating and eventually postpartum depression.

Of course new parents will lose some sleep, but experts say mothers simply can’t be expected to function when experiencing dangerous levels of sleep deprivationand we shouldn’t shoulder this burden alone. Our partners and support circles can and should be part of planning to prioritize a new mother’s sleep.

“I think the whole attitude and culture around motherhood needs to change and it has to be one of acceptance that yes, being a mom is hard, but it doesn’t have to be painful,” says Carly Snyder, a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist in New York City. “There are a lot of ways in which we can make it easier on ourselves by getting other people involved and that is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”

“As women we have a tendency to take on a lot of responsibility, but after a week or two of not getting adequate rest, nobody feels good,” says Snyder. “You can’t function without sleep.”

Prioritizing sleep, and therefore mental health, not only benefits mothers, but children too, Snyder says. Given that long-term untreated depression in mothers has been linked to negative health and life outcomes for children, it’s just as important for moms to be well-rested as it is for them to attend to the needs of their kids.

“I see over and over again moms not prioritizing their sleep and then everything falls apart around them,” says Jennifer Howard, a therapist and sleep consultant who specializes in perinatal mental health. “If you’re not sleeping, then you’re not able to really care for your children in the way that you want to.”

Sleep deprivation has been linked to lower mood and is often a contributing factor for postpartum depression, Howard says, yet moms are often told that sleep deprivation is something they just have to power through when they bring home an infant. While it’s true that losing some sleep is part of life with a newborn, it shouldn’t get to the point of jeopardizing your health.

“Mom’s mental health is imperative both in the short run and over the long term for children’s developmental outcomes,” Snyder says. “Women are wracked with guilt, but by choosing to prioritize their mental health, they are also choosing to prioritize their child.”

The exact amount of sleep everyone needs differs slightly from person to person, but in general the recommendation for adults is at least seven hours a night, which is admittedly difficult with a newborn baby, Snyder says. She suggests coming up with a plan before the baby is born and leaning on support from a partner, family or friends.

“Sit down with a partner and plan out who will be up with the baby and when,” Snyder says. Doing this planning ahead of time means that everyone involved knows what to expect and the primary parent — usually the mom — isn’t forced to ask for help. “If you wait until after the baby is born, it is much more difficult to establish a schedule.”

Sometimes moms will have a hard time sleeping even when baby is sleeping. Exercising during the day — even if it’s just a walk around the block — as well as eating a nutritious diet can help regulate the body and encourage sleep, Snyder says. If, however, insomnia persists or is overwhelming, it can be worth a conversation with a doctor.

Another way to get more sleep as a new parent is to encourage healthy sleep habits in baby from the start, Howard says, by establishing a consistent routine. Around the three-month mark babies are able to distinguish between daytime sleep and nighttime sleep. Choosing a bedtime that seems in sync with their typical sleep cycle, and creating a calm pre-bedtime environment can help parents ease into a consistent routine.

There’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to sleep solutions, but from establishing a schedule, to creating an environment conducive to sleep, to leaning on friends and family to help night or day, there are options for parents to find sleep solutions that work for them and their families, Snyder says.

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.


Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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Amazon shoppers were anxiously awaiting the countdown to Amazon Prime Day, but when the clock struck one, er three, the website went down.

On Monday afternoon shoppers were trying to get their hands on the much-hyped Prime Day deals but instead of low prices, many users just saw 404 errors, continuously refreshing pages, or had issues keeping or adding items to their shopping carts.

CNBC reports shares of Amazon were down during the shopping glitch, and many shoppers took to Twitter and Instagram to discuss how all they could see on Amazon were the dogs who decorate the site's 404 pages.

As cute as the dogs are, shoppers are getting tired of seeing them, so hopefully Amazon gets things back up and running soon. Analysts had projected Amazon would rake in $3 billion dollars this Prime Day. Time will tell how much of that was lost during the great dog picture debacle of 2018.

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When we were kids, family photos shoots typically captured posed moments in a Sears portrait studio, but these days, professional photographers often encourage candid shoots with a more casual vibe.

Casual is hardly the first word that comes to mind when we think of the royal family, but newly released photos from little Prince Louis' recent christening prove why impromptu shots are so popular. Yes, there's still a time for a sit-down, studio-lit family portrait, but it's those fleeting moments of realness that mamas will really want to look back on some day.

Let's take a look at pics from the little Prince's big day.

The extended family sit-down shoot

It's a gorgeous posed photo (and it certainly captures Prince George's adorable smile) but this group pic still feels pretty stiff, even for the royals.

The smaller family photo

This one's a bit more natural, with Prince George flashing an even wider grin and little Princess Charlotte staring at the guest of honor (who appears to be napping) rather than the camera. Both Duchesses look stunning, as they do in all the photos.

Just the Cambridges

A similar pose to last year's Christmas card, this stand up shot of the family of five looks like it was captured just in time. Prince George may be preparing to bold, and Princess Charlotte is about to be lost behind her brother's christening gown.

Mother and son

A stunning outdoor shot, this pic shows little Prince Louis with his bright eyes wide open and his mama staring down at him. Definitely one for Kate to frame for the nursery.

A happy baby boy

That face! This beautiful shot of Prince Louis proves that candid shots can accomplish what posed, portrait studio pics often fail to: Those special, fleeting, moments when our children really show their personality.

Prince Louis, you Sir, are adorable.

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Jennifer Garner is always teaching us great lessons. Like, why we should have a "Yes Day" with our kids or how to make the perfect pizza dough. And this weekend, she offered another really sensible lesson on privacy and respect.

During an interview on CBS' "Sunday Morning", Garner talked about how the constant scrutiny and discussion of her divorce from Ben Affleck (who she shares her three children, Violet, 12, Seraphina, 9, and 6-year-old Samuel with) has been challenging. "I really feel the stress of it. I really, I could cry talking about it," she said during the interview.

We're used to seeing Garner smiling at us from movie sets and Instagram, but as positive as she is, constant divorce talk took its toll on her.

"Everyone says, 'Oh, you've had to go through this in public.' The public isn't what's hard; what's hard is going through it," she explains.

Of course, Garner and Affleck's divorce was scrutinized more than most due to their professions, but many mothers can relate to the stress of a separation. And whether you or your partner's private actions are being scrutinized by a small group of friends and family or by millions of followers, it hurts and can come as a bit of a shock.

"Divorce is a surprisingly public event," author Beth Joselow wrote in her book, Life Lessons: 50 Things I Learned From My Divorce.

According to Divorce Magazine, Joselow was divorced in the early 1990s, but her advice seems even more apt in the age of Instagram and Facebook. "You may find that people who wouldn't ordinarily comment on the private matters in your life suddenly feel duty-bound to tell you what they think of your decision, when, of course, you hadn't asked," she wrote.

Garner says that the overwhelming number of unsolicited opinions on her divorce taught her a lesson.

"What I think I've learned is that the scrutiny in your private life puts a pressure to make something happen," Garner says. "You feel a pressure to hurry up and get married, 'cause you think that'll end the 'Are they engaged? Are they not?'"

Garner felt pressured to get married because the press was constantly asking if she was planning to, but much less famous folks may feel this same kind of pressure from their families, friends or social circles.

"Marrying because you 'should' almost always comes back to haunt you in the end," Susan Pease Gadoua, L.C.S.W., co-author The New I Do, Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels writes for Psychology Today.

"I spoke with a woman recently who described the terrible ambivalence she had before tying the knot...Her gut told her not to go through with it but all pressure from her own head, her friends and family (and society) won out. She's now, nine years and two kids later, entering divorce proceedings."

We have to listen ourselves when it comes to starting a marriage or ending one. Garner's gut told her when it was time to not be married to Affleck anymore, and she's still able to have a successful co-parenting relationship with her children's father, as she proved with her public note to him on Father's Day.

In the end, when (and if) we choose to get married and when (and if) we choose to get divorced are personal decisions. And understanding when not to offer opinions is another great lesson from Garner.

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